Cryptosporidium infection has several negative effects, including dehydration, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhea, Mayo Clinic says. Other effects include fever and stomach pain. The effects of cryptosporidium infection appear within a week and can occur intermittently for up to a month or affect an infected person more constantly for up to two weeks. Some people do not suffer any ill effects from cryptosporidium infection.
Cryptosporidium parasites travel to the intestines and burrow into the walls, explains Mayo Clinic. People commonly acquire the parasites by practicing poor hygiene or by swallowing water from streams, lakes or swimming pools. The effects of infection can lead to complications, including inflammation of the bile duct, liver or pancreas, as well as malnutrition. Children in diapers attending child care centers, child care workers, parents of infected children and animal handlers are all at increased risk of cryptosporidium infection. The disease is shed in the fecal matter of people who are infected.
Treatments for cryptosporidium infection include antidiarrhea drugs, antiparasitic drugs and fluid replacement, Mayo Clinic says. None of these medications cure the cryptosporidium infection, but they help with its effects. Normally, cryptosporidium infection is not life-threatening, but it is dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.